An 18-year-old teenager at the center of a high-profile tug-of-war custody battle between his Taiwanese and Brazilian relatives more than a decade ago broke down in tears yesterday when he visited the columbarium where his father’s ashes are stored.
Iruan Ergui Wu (吳憶樺) is visiting Taiwan for the first time since his maternal grandmother in Brazil was recognized as his guardian by a Taiwanese court in 2004 following the deaths of his Brazilian mother and Taiwanese father.
Having arrived on Friday evening, Iruan traveled from Taipei to Greater Kaohsiung yesterday morning to visit the columbarium in Cieding (茄萣), the town he last saw at age eight.
Iruan cried when he stood in front of the urn containing his father’s remains. Comforted by his adoptive mother and Taiwanese relatives, he embraced the urn and took a moment to gather his thoughts.
Iruan’s father, Wu Teng-shu (吳登樹), was a fishing boat captain from Cieding. On a trip to Brazil, he met a woman called Marisa Ergui Tavares and had a son. He left after Iruan was born in May 1995.
In 2001, Wu Teng-shu brought his son to Taiwan to visit his family, but died of a heart attack two weeks later. Iruan’s uncle, Wu Huo-yen (吳火眼), then decided that the boy should stay in Greater Kaohsiung.
Iruan’s grandmother traveled to Taiwan to bring him back to Brazil, setting off a lengthy court battle that lasted more than two years before the Taiwan High Court ruled in her favor and Iruan was taken from his uncle’s home on Feb. 10, 2004.
Iruan has been under intense media scrutiny since arriving on Friday and was filmed kissing a Taiwanese woman at a restaurant in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) on Saturday.
Users of the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board system — posted that the woman works at CtiTV’s international unit and is surnamed Cheng (鄭). They said they suspect the scene was staged for a story.
CtiTV spokesman Huang Chun-jen (黃俊仁) confirmed yesterday that the woman in question is a CtiTV reporter, but said the company would not get involved in what it called “private behavior.”
Austin Ou (歐晉仁), executive director of the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, which invited Iruan to Taiwan, said it was “normal” for friends to kiss or hug in Brazil, stressing that the reporter and Iruan do not have a relationship.
When journalist showed Iruan the video yesterday, he reportedly blushed and declined to comment.